Think Alaska seafood and one of the first species that jumps to mind is the King Crab. This is one place to buy it fresh!
The primary reason is the taste of its succulent meat and the main reason Alaskan crab fishermen risk life and limb in the Bering Sea and other Alaskan waters to harvest them.
The best known characteristics of King Crab are their legs. If you’re not familiar with the taste of King Crab legs, you should be. The next time you’re at a seafood restaurant or steakhouse, think about trading the traditional lobster tail for a few king crab legs with melted butter on the side. A good Japanese or Chinese restaurant may sell Alaska king crab legs to you accompanied by exquisite dips or with the meat included in various Asian dishes. They actually have five pairs of legs, although the rear most legs are small and generally not eaten.
King crabs are the largest of all crabs, measuring in at six to ten pounds each. There are actually three kinds of commercial King Crabs, with Red King crabs, or paralithodes camtschatica, being the largest.
Blue King Crabs, P. platypus, once cooked, look similar to reds with the exception of much larger giant claws.
The Golden King Crab, Lithodes aequispinus, is the smallest of the three types. The all-time record female and male weighed 10.5 and 24 pounds, respectively. Experts estimated the female to be 20 to 30 years old, while the male’s leg span was nearly five feet across!
King Crab can be found throughout Alaskan waters. The Red King Crab is most abundant in Bristol Bay and the Kodiak Archipelago, the Blue King Crab is found primarily in the Pribilof and St. Matthew Islands, while the Golden King Crab centers in the Aleutian Islands.
The King Crab season fluctuates yearly between October and January and lasts anywhere from a few days to about a month. It is based on a quota system hat takes into account the perceived availability.
The television series Deadliest Catch has made the general public well aware of the life of an Alaskan crab fisherman. Anyone who has seen even one episode knows it’s not easy to harvest king crabs in Alaska, or anywhere else for that matter. Fishermen utilize 600-pound steel-framed pots covered with nylon-webbing. The crew baits each pot with chopped herring or other fish byproduct, and then releases them into the ocean where they sink to the bottom. Pots are marked with buoys and retrieved one or two days later.
Crabbing vessels working in the Bering Sea or Aleutian Islands average over 100 feet in length and work in high seas. Only male crabs can be legally sold.
Next Page: Learn How to Cook King Crab